Nashville Churches’ Prayer Postcards Outreach Sparks Debate Over Faith and Privacy

A pair of postcards sent by participants in a church outreach called Awaken Nashville. Photo courtesy of Heidi Hall

A group of Nashville churches decided recently to pray for every resident in their Bible Belt city.

Then they sent out postcards to everyone on their prayer list.

Some folks saw the prayers as an act of kindness.

Other felt the prayers were a little creepy.

“I just couldn’t believe that some creepy guy I don’t even know was taking time out of his day to tell me how to live my life,” said Nashville resident Cory Johnson. “I genuinely believe the project is a form of trespassing and a huge invasion of privacy.”

The 30-day prayer focus — known as Awaken Nashville — was the brainchild of staffers at Nashville’s Ethos Church, a congregation made up mostly of young adults.

Dave Clayton, pastor of the Ethos Church, said that for the last several years, the congregation has fasted and prayed for the city of Nashville during February. Last year during that time of prayer, Clayton said, church members felt a conviction to do something more.

“I love this city, and it’s a great time to be here, but we just had this conviction that despite all the good things that were going on, there’s still a lot of pain,” he said. “We started wrestling with how we could love and care for the city. I think there are a lot of answers to that, but for us the starting place was prayer.”

Eventually the church — along with about 350 other congregations that partnered with Ethos — decided to pray for “every person by name” in the city of Nashville, according to a promotional video from Awaken Nashville.

Volunteers were given a list of names to pray for from Jan. 27-Feb. 24.3 At the end of that period, they were encouraged to send a note to the people on their list.

Kevin Queen, the lead pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville, said the postcards were meant to encourage those who received them. And he said that when it comes to prayer, a personal touch matters.

“I think we can pray general prayers like, ‘Oh God, I pray for Nashville,’ but when we pray specific prayers instead, that gives opportunity for God to do specific things,” he said. “When I pray for my kids, I pray for them by name. When I pray for my wife, I pray for her by name. When things are personal, it just increases love.”

When he first saw a postcard in his mailbox, Andrew Brumel thought it had come from a friend. Brumel said he was glad to know someone had been thinking of him.

“I had been going through some things right about the time I got the postcard, so when I got it, it was almost like a sign from God that things would all work out,” he said.

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Source: Religion News Service